Schools Music Association
The Association is pleased to see included special mention of the requirement to audit local needs and, in particular, those of disadvantaged young people in an attempt to make for more consistent music education provision throughout England. Of equal importance is the continued support for the outlets for high achievers in the form of Music for Youth and the national ensembles. SMA is delighted that music is recognised both as an academic subject and one that is vital for the ethos of any good school. However, our delight is matched by equal frustration and puzzlement that neither music nor any arts subject is yet included in the E-bac.
For many decades, the SMA has been calling for better teacher training in music and the plan recognises this need by the introduction of the Initial Teacher Training add-on module, designed to boost new teachers’ skills and confidence in music. SMA would like to see this as integral to teacher training, particularly at Primary level, rather than something tacked on at the end of a three-year course. We sincerely hope that such integration will eventually take place. We also applaud the desire to see an increased use of technology in music teaching, another area where greater training is required, the provision of which will presumably be the responsibility of the new 'hubs'.
The plan extends to 2020 and while we are pleased to see a commitment to funding until August 2015, we are concerned that it is at a lower level than currently available from Government. Mention is made of other potential sources of income for the new hubs, although, at first glance, it does not appear that Local Authorities, for example, will necessarily be obliged to contribute.
'More for less' is clearly what is demanded. What funds there are, will be distributed by the Government-appointed Fund Holder, Arts Council England, whose responsibility it will be to monitor and hold to account how well the hubs are spending the money and what value they are achieving. Ofsted too will be part of the equation as will schools and parents and carers. In other words, it is up to all of us involved in music education to ensure that we are getting the best value educationally as well as financially. SMA wholeheartedly supports this approach, although we fervently hope that financial stringency will not bring about a situation where musician becomes pitted against musician as they make their bids to be employed by the hubs.
As an Association, since its inception in 1938, SMA has consistently contributed to music making experiences for children and their teachers outside the school and hopes to be able to work closely with the hubs in the future. We wish all those currently involved in delivering music education – Music Services, private providers and trusts – a smooth path to the formation of these new hubs. Hopefully, we are emerging from a situation of music in education being in limbo and plans can at last be devised to build upon the foundations about to be laid.